Oh, The Places You'll Go

The Dumb and The Restless

Notes: Written for ds_flashfiction soap challenge. I am reliably informed this is grade A crack. Thanks to snoopypez for quick and dirty beta when she should have been sleeping. Cliffhangers, I love to hate 'em.


Ray storms into the precinct gun already out and pointing at anyone who even dares look at him funny. He's mad as hell and he's not going to take it any more. Leastways Ma's as mad as hell and Ray can't take it any more. He pays no attention at all to Frannie who is scurrying behind him and alternating between pleading and threatening him with castration. He's heard it all before.

He comes to a halt in the middle of the bullpen.

"Which one of you bastards knocked up my sister?" he yells, gun held out, turning in a tight circle. But it seems like half-crazed cops brandishing their weapons isn't an unfamiliar experience at the 2-7 and nobody stops what they're doing. Ray yells again, and as he turns he sees Frannie urgently explaining something to Kowalski who's looking at him with an uh-oh this volcano's gonna blow expression. This makes Ray mad. Madder.

Everyone is still going about their business and Ray needs answers. He points his gun upwards and shoots, flinging an arm over his head to avoid the shower of plaster dust he manages to unleash. Everybody shuts up. They're also staring at him like he's completely lost it but Ray can handle that. He learned that look well in Vegas.

"That's better," says Ray, deceptively calm. "Now I have your attention I would like to know which of you small-dicked-sister-fuckers impregnated Francesca. I won't kill you," he caresses his gun in what could be construed as a homoerotic manner, "but there may be maiming."

There's absolute silence and then Detective Huey, failed drummer and station beefcake, stands up.

"It was me," he says, palms open and out, showing he's got nothing to hide. Ray knows that trick. Huey. That bastard. He narrows his eyes and takes a step towards him.

But then,

"It was me," says Detective Dewey, failed comedian and floppy-haired fop, standing up across the other side of the desk from Huey.

Ray twists and re-sights his gun. Dewey! How could she? Has she thought through the consequences of having him over for family holidays? All those jokes with the punch-lines fluffed? If Ray takes him out now it will be a mercy killing. He growls.

"It was me," says Detective No-name, the young, fresh-faced one who has lessons to learn. Lesson number one: do not fuck with Ray Vecchio and do not fuck his sister. Ray swivels to face him.

"It was me," says the big hairy biker in handcuffs (it will later turn out that he has a heart of gold and he was only trying to help the old lady across the road and not inappropriately molest her, damn his poor spatial awareness).

"It was me."

"It was me."

"It was me."

Declarations are springing up all around the bullpen as detectives and perps alike rise to their feet and square off against Ray. Ray's getting dizzy with all the swinging around. All of these guys could be the father? Oh my god, Frannie is such a slut. Ma is going to kill her and then she's going to kill Ray for failing in his duties as big brother. He's trying here, he really is, but she's not making it easy for him.

"I'm Spartacus," says Detective Xena, named for her powers of ass-kicking and her blonde girlfriend, Gabrielle.

Ray whirls to look at her and she's grinning this evil grin and the elastic band of tension inside him is stretching to breaking point. Xena doesn't even have sperm. Jesus! He needs support and he needs it now. Ray takes a few steps backward until he feels the safety of his desk pressing up against the back of his thighs. He turns around to look at Kowalski, pleads with him with his eyes to make this stop.

Kowalski holds his gaze for a while and Ray thinks he sees something fleeting across his face. Compassion, maybe. But then Kowalski's eyes flick away towards Frannie and he leans back on his chair and says, "Yeah, it was me."

The elastic snaps.

Ray lands the punch squarely against Kowalski's jaw and man, he has bones of steel because that hurts like hell. The momentum causes the chair to tip and Kowalski's sprawled on the floor, legs and arms in all directions. Before he can even think, Ray's on top of him and throwing punches like they're going out of fashion. He lands another couple before Kowalski starts hitting back and scrabbling at Ray to get a purchase. There's a rip and Ray realizes that Kowalski's torn his suit and that's it, he sees red and starts pulling Kowalski's hair and is just about to go for the eye-gouge when there's a heavy hand on his shoulder, yanking him off and yelling. Lots of yelling.

****

Meanwhile, up in the frozen North, a bedraggled, allegedly deaf, half-wolf scrabbles at the door to the RCMP outpost. Constable Nefarious opens it (with a name like that it was surrender to the inevitable or prove everyone wrong ñ Constable Nefarious is a tenacious bastard) and the wolf starts to bark.

"What's that, Dief? Sergeant Fraser is down a well? And he's beginning to hallucinate a pemmican ballet? And he's found evidence of the walrus serial-killer in the form of a collection of buckets? And he's single-handedly excavated the most important find about First Nations in our history? With two broken arms and a broken leg? I'd better get the boys."

His message delivered, Diefenbaker allows himself to collapse for fifteen seconds before trotting into the police station and devouring Constable Nefarious' stash of donuts. This will prove to be a problem later when Constable Nefarious can't find his donuts and has a hypoglycemic attack, leaving the cell-door open so that Bart the Prisoner is able to get out and beats the Station's high-score at Minesweeper, expert level. Nefarious never quite forgives Dief for that.

****

The cell is clean at least. Kowalski has the bed, what with being passed out. Ray sits on the bench across the other side, wishing his ass wasn't quite so bony. He also wishes he wasn't such a jackass — he puts his head in his hands and groans. And then groans again because he's managed to catch one of his many bruises. He takes his hands away and looks at the unconscious form of Kowalski. How could he do this to Ray? He'd thought that they were, if not friends, at least simpatico. How come everyone wants to fuck his sister and no one wants to fuck Ray?

Kowalski stirs and moans, eyes blinking in the harsh strip-light. He struggles to his elbows and takes in his surroundings. He looks over at Ray and Ray can see the purpling of his skin on his left cheek. He feels the smallest twinge of guilt. It doesn't last when Kowalski opens his mouth.

"Nice work, Vecchio."

"This is not my fault, Kowalski. It's either Frannie's for having such low standards or it's yours for not keeping it in your pants, I haven't decided yet."

Kowalski shakes his head, slow and disbelieving. "Come on, Ray. You don't believe that every last cop, and a bunch of the perps out there screwed your sister six ways from Friday? She's a cop with three kids — where's she gonna find the time?"

"Lunchbreak?"

"Vecchio."

Ray's not stupid. Mostly. He knows Kowalski's making a good point but someone planted their seed in Frannie's fertile garden and the not-knowing is driving him crazy.

"Just answer me honestly, Kowalski. Did you sleep with my sister?"

"A gentleman never kisses and tells, Ray."

"That's why I'm not asking a gentleman, I'm asking you." Ray's stomach feels tense; for some reason Kowalski's answer is really, really important.

Kowalski opens his mouth.

****

In a nursing home on the West side of Chicago, Ray's Uncle Lorenzo lies dying. He's alone except for Bonnie, his favorite nurse. The room is dark, but the window is open and the drapes billow in the soft breeze sending shafts of sunlight across Bonnie's face. She looks like an angel and Lorenzo has something he needs to confess.

"Come closer," he whispers, voice cracking.

Bonnie leans in towards him, squeezing his hand.

"I ... was Al Capone's special friend, if you get my drift."

Bonnie's brows crease in a puzzled frown. Lorenzo wonders where they get the staff from these days. He pats the hand holding his. "He used to screw me up the ass, dear," he says and watches her mouth widen into an O. "We were very close and I have some important ... memories from those days. Memories that will make my family rich. Now listen closely-" Lorenzo's breath hitches and his eyes roll back. The constant beeping of machines is replaced by a flat whine. Bonnie lets go of Lorenzo's hand and hits the crash button.

****

"I didn't sleep with your sister, Vecchio, I promise. She was my sister too, you know, I don't do incest, it's creepy." Kowalski looks thoughtful. "I could maybe make an exception for lesbian twins."

Ray goes limp with relief. Kowalski isn't the father, can't be the father, that's ... that's ... that's the best news he's had all day. He's feeling magnanimous now, so he says, "You know, out of all the jerkwads it could be, I'd pick you first."

Kowalski snorts with laughter. "No, you wouldn't, asshole. You'd continue what you started until I had a hole in my head or I shot you in self-defense." He swings his legs over the bed and slouches into a sitting position directly opposite Ray, their knees almost touching. "Anyway," he says, voice so gravelly Ray has trouble hearing it, "I wouldn't want to be. I have rules."

Ray's mouth goes dry, Kowalski's looking at him funny, he can't read it, but it's making his stomach do butterflies and there's a weird throb somewhere unplaceable and he has no idea what to do.

"What rules?"

"About sleeping with people in the same f-"

"Ray!" Frannie cuts across what Kowalski was going to say and Ray feels suddenly murderous. He drags his eyes from Kowalski's face, catching a shrug out of the corner of his eye, and turns to see Frannie clinging to the bars of the cell.

"Ray, I can't believe you! You have to stop this, it's not healthy. Or, you know, sane."

Ray jumps to his feet and in two strides is at the bars, hands gripping Frannie's. "It's easy, Frannie. Tell me who the father is and it will all be over."

"Never!" says Frannie, tossing her hair in defiance. "I'll shoot the baby first!"

Ray's hands slide a little way up until they're gripping Frannie's forearms. He shakes her.

"Do not be so melodramatic. Tell. Me. Who. The. Father. Is."

Frannie looks Ray straight in the eye.

"There is no father. My babies are miracle babies."

Ray lets her go in disgust and Frannie stumbles a step backwards, regaining her balance and planting a hand on each hip in Wonder Woman pose. She tosses her hair again. Ray considers taking a razor blade to her scalp in the middle of the night.

"Frannie, so help me, if you compare yourself to Santa Maria again, I will cut you. Your babies are not the Messiah."

"No, they're very naughty boys," Kowalski interpolates from somewhere in the cell. Ray mentally runs over all the reasons for justifiable homicide.

"They are not!" says Frannie, bristling in true maternal fashion. "Besides, at least one of them is a girl."

Ray paces, wishing he had hair to run a hand through; instead he rubs his hand back and forth over the peach fuzz he has left.

"Please, Francesca," he begs. "You don't have to marry the guy, but at least bring him home to meet the family. And, you know, his kids."

"Hey, Vecchio, chill," says Kowalski, reaching out a hand and catching Ray's wrist. Ray freezes. Oh. His pulse quickens and he knows that if there was a camera filming this it would zoom in on the finger and thumb loosely circling his arm, skin barely grazing skin. He thinks maybe hyperventilating could be a good idea.

"Vecchio," the gruff voice of Harding Welsh, Captain and secret flower-arranger, shakes Ray out of his reverie, though he still doesn't move, "I have some information in which I believe you will be interested."

"Harding, no," says Frannie.

"Sir?" says Ray. And that's when they hear the muffled boom and the room caves in.

****

"No," says Ian, patiently. "I explained this already. I have a snake implanted in my stomach that is in a symbiotic relationship with me. It wants me to do evil things like leaving the toilet seat up and world domination, but I'm controlling it now. I have a special medicine which you need to let me take."

"Yes, of course, Ian. I have some special medicine for you right here." The grey-haired man in the white coat pushed a bottle of pills across the table towards Ian.

"Those are clozapine."

"Yes."

"I'm not crazy. It's not like I wanted the snake, it's all my ex-girlfriend, Audrey's fault, but now that I've got it I might as well make it work for the common good. Right?"

"Fantasies can be very powerful, Ian. Remember the time you told me that you were married to three of the Spice Girls and that you hoped David Beckham never considered doing a paternity test on his second born?"

"Okay," says Ian, fidgeting in his seat, "so that wasn't exactly truthful, but it kept me warm at nights. The snake thing is different. Look." He stands and begins to pull up his hospital robe.

****

It's dark.

It's very dark.

Ray can hear his own breathing, harsh and unfamiliar. The only other sound is some ominous creaking. Ray's never been a big fan of ominous creaking; it tends to spell certain doom. He tries to move: nothing seems to be broken. Bolder, he feels around himself, trying to map out his position. There's rubble on every side of him and what seems to be a beam about a foot above his torso. He's been in worse situations but not many.

"Frannie?" he tries but his mouth is full of dust and the word chokes off as he coughs.

"Vecchio?" It's Kowalski. Thank god. His voice is muffled and coming from Ray's right.

"Kowalski? You okay?"

"Yeah, I think. I got under the bed, it took the worst of it. You?"

"Nothing bust. But I'm not getting out of here without help. You hear anything?"

"Nah. They'll be running around like headless chickens up there. Don't worry, they'll get to us."

The beam above Ray creaks and he feels it shift downwards. His heart thumps painfully in his chest.

"Kowalski?"

"Yeah?"

"I'm worried."

Kowalski doesn't reply and that makes Ray nervous. He hears scrabbling and little clinks as pieces of rubble knock together, there's an acrid smell in his nose and he hopes it's the broken cistern and not something else way more embarrassing. Then Ray feels a small piece of rubble glance off his leg. Then another and another.

"Vecchio?" Kowalski's voice is clearer now, which is weird. "Feel along the wall, the one separating us."

Ray does as he's told, fingers scraping against rough concrete, catching on twisted metal and then ... warmth. Flesh. Kowalski's fingers. Kowalski's quick fingers that have made a hole in the wall and are now seeking him out. Ray grips them tightly.

"Hey," says Kowalski.

"Hey," says Ray and he finds he's breathing a little more easily. "About that rule?"

"Yeah?"

"You were saying?"

Kowalski's fingers loosen and then grip again, like he's making his mind up to something. "I make it a rule never to sleep with people in the same family. Well, except that one time and I swear I didn't know he was the guy's father until after he'd sucked my cock, honest. Stupid, faulty eyesight."

Ray's stomach clenches and it's nothing to do with how the ominous creaking has reached new heights.

"So you're saying?"

Kowalski says something but Ray doesn't catch it because the beam shifts again, and the grating screech drowns out the soft words.

"Kowalski?" he says, half-panicked. "Again, please?"

There's a silence.

"Come on," says Ray. "I hate cliff-hangers." And, just as Kowalski draws breath to speak, there's another screech and the room fades to black.


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